Effect of Emotions in a Lexical Decision Task: A Diffusion Model Analysis

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Abstract

This study measured the effect of emotional states on lexical decision task performance and investigated which underlying components (physiological, attentional orienting, executive, lexical, and/or strategic) are affected. We did this by assessing participants’ performance on a lexical decision task, which they completed before and after an emotional state induction task. The sequence effect, usually produced when participants repeat a task, was significantly smaller in participants who had received one of the three emotion inductions (happiness, sadness, embarrassment) than in control group participants (neutral induction). Using the diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978) to resolve the data into meaningful parameters that correspond to specific psychological components, we found that emotion induction only modulated the parameter reflecting the physiological and/or attentional orienting components, whereas the executive, lexical, and strategic components were not altered. These results suggest that emotional states have an impact on the low-level mechanisms underlying mental chronometric tasks.

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